Hos­pice set to open at last af­ter takeover

Middleton Guardian - - WILDLIFE - NEAL KEEL­ING

ADESPERATELYNEEDED chil­dren’s hos­pice due to open three years ago is fi­nally set to take in sick young­sters fol­low­ing the takeover of a strug­gling char­ity.

Grace’s Place in Rad­cliffe, Bury, was re­fur­bished at a cost of £1.2m in 2014, in­clud­ing a £507,000 Depart­ment of Health grant, but has stood empty ev­ery since.

Backed by Ra­dio 2 DJ Sara Cox, the fa­cil­ity on Dumers Lane is meant to serve fam­i­lies with sick chil­dren in Bury, Old­ham, and Rochdale.

It is es­ti­mated around 650 chil­dren from the towns could ben­e­fit from a hos­pice, but cur­rently have to travel up to 30 miles to get sup­port.

With debts of more than £350,000, and no cash for staff, Grace’s Place has never opened. But now Hud­der­s­field-based For­get Me Not Chil­dren’s Hos­pice, which was rated ‘out­stand­ing’ by the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion, is to take it over. The char­ity al­ready runs a hos­pice in York­shire at a cost of £4m a year.

Bosses hope to have a hos­pice at home ser­vice op­er­at­ing by De­cem­ber and plan to open the fivebed Grace’s Place next year with Princess Beatrice as pa­tron.

Four char­ity shops to raise cash for the hos­pice will open in each town. It is hoped £500,000 will be raised in the next 12 months – in­clud­ing £60,000 rapidly – to fi­nance the re­cruit­ment of four nurses.

Peter Bran­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of For­get Me Not, said: “Six-years-ago we had a very sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion in Hud­der­s­field, where the com­mu­nity had been promised a chil­dren’s hos­pice for many years and were frus­trated and wanted to see it hap­pen be­cause there was a great need.

“We have the ex­pe­ri­ence to get things up and run­ning and to get fund­ing.

“We are in dis­cus­sions with lo­cal clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing groups, and are re­ally hope­ful they will sup­port us as they recog­nise the im­por­tance of get­ting Grace’s Place open.

“We will be car­ing for chil­dren with a whole range of con­di­tions, not just end of life, and car­ing for mum and dad and broth­ers and sis­ters. The start­ing point will be hos­pice at home, which is cru­cial ser­vice. We go into chil­dren’s homes and pro­vide planned respite on a weekly ba­sis.”

Kirsty Franks, who will be in­terim man­ager at Grace’s Place, said: “There are an aw­ful lot of fam­i­lies not get­ting the sup­port they need. We need to dis­pel the myth of what a chil­dren’s hos­pice is for.

“Our job is to ex­plain we of­fer so much more than end-of-life care.”

The debts of Grace’s Place have been cleared, in­clud­ing £150,000 owed to builder’s Sed­don, who wrote if off to help the char­ity.

“Public do­na­tions have been pro­tected and will be used to equip the site.

Kirsty added: “At For­get Me Not, our sim­ple prom­ise is that we al­ways say ‘yes’ to the chil­dren and fam­i­lies who need us.

“We never, ever say ‘no’, be­cause by the time they’re re­ferred to us, fam­i­lies have heard too much neg­a­tiv­ity al­ready. It’s now time for fam­i­lies in Bury, Old­ham and Rochdale to start ex­pe­ri­enc­ing that same magic of ‘yes’.”

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Bran­son and in­terim gen­eral man­ager Kirsty Franks out­side Grace’s Place chil­dren’s hos­pice

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